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8 tips for safe summer boating

With summer in full swing, many Canadians are looking forward to getting out on the lake. Whether you are heading out in a canoe, sailboat, motorboat or other watercraft, it’s important to take appropriate safety precautions. 

We’ve put together a list of eight safety tips to help keep you and your passengers safe on the water this summer.

1.    Check licensing and registration requirements

If your boat uses a motor with 10 horsepower or more, it must be licensed or registered by Transport Canada and you will need to carry your pleasure craft license on board with you. Most Canadian provinces also require you to carry personal identification and proof of competency (such as a Pleasure Craft Operator Card) while operating any motorized boat.1 

2.    Pack a safety kit

Depending on the type and size of your boat, there are requirements for safety equipment you must have on board. Ensure safety items are well-maintained, easily accessible to all passengers and that everyone knows where to locate them in case of emergency. For a full list of safety equipment requirements, visit Transport Canada’s Safe Boating Guide (PDF). 

3.    Plan your trip

Map out your route ahead of time, ensuring your course steers clear of local hazards. Leave a copy of your planned route along with a description of your boat with a trusted friend or family member; in case of emergency, this person can contact a Rescue Coordinator Centre. Keep an eye on the weather and adjust your boating plans if necessary.

4.    Inspect your boat

Ensure your boat, its engine and equipment are all in good working condition and that you have enough fuel for your trip. 

5.    Wear a life jacket or PFD

Two kids smile at the camera as they paddle a kayak in a lake.Every passenger must wear a well-fitting lifejacket or Personal Flotation Device (PFD) at all times while out on the water. Regularly inspect and test your lifejackets and PFDs and ensure there are no rips or tears before leaving shore. You can find a list of all Canadian-approved lifejackets and PFDs on Transport Canada’s Approved Products Catalogue Index.

6.    Never operate a boat while under the influence

It is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs and is punishable under the Criminal Code of Canada. Keep yourself and others safe on the water by staying sober, prepared and alert. 

7.    Follow the rules of the water

Just like you would follow the “rules of the road” while driving a car, you must follow the “rules of the water” while navigating Canada’s waterways. This includes obeying the posted speed limits, staying aware of your surroundings and regularly brushing up on your knowledge of boating safety. 

8.    Review your insurance coverage

While motorized boats and personal watercraft vehicles, such as Seadoos and Jet-Skis, are not legally required to have insurance, it is highly recommended. Having the right amount of coverage is crucial for protecting your boat/watercraft, as well as protecting yourself from potential liability claims. If someone gets hurt while on-board your boat, or because of your boat or personal watercraft (such as in the case of a collision), you could be held responsible. 

Get out on the water this summer with the peace of mind that you, your passengers and your boat/watercraft are protected. 

Questions about your current recreational vehicle insurance policy? Connect with your OTIP insurance broker today at 1-800-267-6847. If you want to get a quote for recreational vehicle insurance, call 1-866-561-5559 – don’t forget to ask about bundling your recreational vehicle insurance with your home or car insurance policy. You could save with a bundling discount!

1.    Transport Canada - Safe Boating Guide (PDF)

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